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    Pointing a Topical Moral at the Present”: Watching Knocknagow in 1918


    Condon, Denis (2012) Pointing a Topical Moral at the Present”: Watching Knocknagow in 1918. Screening the Past, 33. pp. 1-13. ISSN 1328-9756

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    Abstract

    In his seminal account of Irish silent cinema, Kevin Rockett locates the Film Company of Ireland’s Knocknagow in relation to the politics of Irish nationalism in the period between the Easter Rising of 1916 and the War of Independence (Rockett, 18–23). Indicating the political logic behind the filmmakers’ choice of elements in their adaptation of Charles J. Kickham’s novel Knocknagow, or The Homes of Tipperary (1873), Rockett contends that in an increasingly fraught political situation, “the release of a film such as Knocknagow was certain to be interpreted in the light of current events” (Rockett, 21). Despite the plausibility of such an argument, and his suggestive juxtaposition of narrative details and political occurrences in 1917–18, Rockett offers little evidence that contemporary audiences did actually consider the film in some way relevant to the momentous events unfolding around them. Part of the reason for this omission may be that Rockett focuses on the screening of the film in Dublin in late April, by which point it had already been exhibited in many other towns and cities in Ireland. My own discussion of Knocknagow’s audiences in Early Irish Cinema, 1895–1921 (2008) focuses in particular on articles in Ireland’s first cinema periodical, Irish Limelight (Condon 2008, 243–53). Although it to some extent considers popular audiences in relation to the film’s premiere in Clonmel, my concern there was mainly with audiences involved in the film business in Ireland. Yet Knocknagow was in fact shown not merely to these elite viewers but to large audiences across an extensive and growing network of venues that showed films either mainly or exclusively. In the following essay, I would therefore like to continue the task I set myself in that earlier work by putting the audience back into discussions of Knocknagow. The essay is in two parts. The first part offers a methodological consideration of the task of using local and regional newspapers as an archive of historical cinema audiences. The second examines the reception of Knocknagow in the first four months of its release, between January and April 1918.

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This article was first published at http://www.screeningthepast.com/2012/02/“pointing-a-topical-moral-at-the-present”-watching-knocknagow-in-1918/[16/10/2013 10:40:56]
    Keywords: Irish silent cinema; Ireland; Politics; Film Company of Ireland;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Arts,Celtic Studies and Philosophy > School of English, Media & Theatre Studies
    Item ID: 4577
    Depositing User: Denis Condon
    Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2013 16:15
    Journal or Publication Title: Screening the Past
    Publisher: The Screening the Past Group
    Refereed: Yes
    URI:

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